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Wednesday, April 24, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

N.J. Groups Seek to Overturn Betting Ban

NEWARK, N.J. (CN) - A federal ban on sports betting in 46 states strips New Jersey of the ability to raise millions of dollars in taxes and unconstitutionally favors the four states where sports betting is still legal, a group of gaming associations and Sen. Raymond Lesniak claim in Federal Court. They seek to overturn the allegedly vague and overbroad Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992.

The Act bars government and private entities from sponsoring, operating or promoting any form of gambling on sports competitions. It also allows the U.S. attorney general or professional and amateur sports organizations to enforce the law through litigation.

However, the ban did not apply to states that passed laws authorizing sports betting before or within a year of the Act's passage. The four states that fall under this exemption are Nevada, Delaware, Oregon and Montana. New Jersey was unable to pass legislation authorizing sports betting within a year, the lawsuit claims.

Interactive Media Entertainment & Gaming Association (iMEGA), three thoroughbred racing associations and Sen. Lesniak say the Act hinders the state from attracting more tourists and raising the money it needs to fund several state programs.

More than 142,000 acres of the state's horse farms "are disappearing," the suit claims, because breeders can no longer support the costs of raising and racing horses in New Jersey.

"In the face of this severe decline," the plaintiffs add, "the competitive disadvantages created by PASPA, which discriminate in favor of the four sports betting states, including neighboring Delaware, are likely to be too much for the New Jersey industry to overcome."

Similarly, the Act chills iMEGA members from participating in online sports betting, the lawsuit claims.

In February 2009, Lesniak and Sen. Jeff Van Drew co-sponsored a resolution seeking to lift the federal ban on sports wagering. It passed unanimously.

The plaintiffs say the Act should be overturned, as it discriminates against 46 states and gives sports organizations too much enforcement power.

Plaintiffs are represented by Richard Rudin with Weiner Lesniak LLP and Eric Bernstein.

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